Europeans and other Foreign Nationals who Trash America

Discussion in 'Politics' started by WillNever, Nov 18, 2009.

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  1. WillNever Valued Senior Member

    Those who know me on this board know me to be someone who is rabidly against any sort of blind, nationalistic fervor or mindless brow-beating, especially in matters concerning the USA, which to many of us here is our place of birth. However, that does not mean that I condone all the nasty, arrogant, and self-righteous condemnation that Americans often have to deal with, especially from those who originate in Europe. One of the biggest accusations stemming from all that is the criticism that Americans are lazy and narrow-minded because they don't apply for passports and travel to foreign countries as often as Europeans do.

    Now, I myself have been abroad several times in my life, so I have a very even-handed approach to the matter as both a natural, home-born American and a traveler, and I have to say that the fact that American foreign travel is disproportionate to the amount of traveling that foreigners take part in is perfectly acceptable and healthy, given the special circumstances that are unique to only America. In the meantime, the Europeans who criticize Americans on that basis need to get their heads rewired and think a little bit more with their brains instead of their mouths before trashing the freest and most productive country in the world. Here are my words to those people:

    Do you European critics not understand the fact that unlike the small little territory that your country occupies, the USA is ENORMOUS in comparison? Our vast country is roughly twice the size of your whole continent, which is where you conduct most of your so-called "international travel." Does everyone get the picture? We have the majority of all earthly climates within our own borders, including sub-tropical climates. Meanwhile, your whole country probably resembles upstate New York. Our own country on its own is big enough for traveling, and the two countries that border our north and south, the ones we visit most, are likewise HUGE in comparison to yours.

    We also have a far more diverse range of foods, ethnicities, religions, and natural attractions in our own borders than you can ever dream of. And in addition to that, we work the longest hours and have the least vacation time out of the year than any other country, meaning we simply don't have as much time to burn traveling as you do.

    Please keep the above in mind when you Europeans (or any other foreign nationals) get it in your heads to call Americans lazy or narrow-minded for not traveling abroad because quite simply, unlike you, we don't need to travel abroad in order to get our kicks.

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  3. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    There is no European country with its ecosystems limited to resembling upstate New York. Though you general point is correct.

    However, I don't think Europeans expect US citizens to travel abroad more. At least none I have ever met complained about this.

    They did expect US cits to be more aware of other countries more than they are. Not just neighbors, but also countries far away. IOW Europeans seem to know more about countries in the far East and South America often much better than US cits.

    I do think geography plays an inevitable role, even here. If you brush up against other countries and borders are all around you, within a day's drive or less, you have an immediate sense of other countries and this affects how you learn about the world. You take it for granted you need to learn about other countries and this carries over even for countries far away.

    But there is a kind of 'we are the best and other countries really want to be like us - or they are jealous and hate our way of life - so there is little reason to learn about them' attitude also.

    I have never, ever been challenged on my having traveled enough by Europeans. Now I would satisfy most challengers, but even before I would have, no one did. I think Europeans also know that many Americans cannot afford to travel, even inside the US and might be less quick to judge someone like that in the ways upper class Americans might.

    Are there other US cits, other than the OP writer who have met complaints that US cits don't travel enough?
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I would not say Americans do not travel. There are 700 US military bases around the world and there is always some country somewhere occupied by Americans.
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  7. WillNever Valued Senior Member

    You're right. Upstate New York + Northern Pennsylvania together is much more representative of European ecosystems.

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    I do agree. In order to travel internationally, most Europeans simply need to take a train or an automobile in order to cross national borders into another country. They can make a weekend trip out of it, and this costs Europeans almost nothing at all, just the price of a train ticket or the gas. In order for an American to travel internationally, we usually have to drive or fly 1000 miles or more just to get to Canada or Mexico, two very large countries which Europeans like to say "don't count" despite all their intra-European travel somehow counting. Also, in order to make a weeklong visit to a country in Europe for a couple weeks, Americans can expect to pay up to three to five grand for a reasonably comfortable stay, including air fare... especially when it's a whole family.

    There are special circumstances at work here that are unique only to Americans, and that's something Europeans need to consider.
  8. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    i was thinking the same thing SAM

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  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    This and that

    I find this whole thread a bit of a straw man.

    A few basic considerations:

    (1) Americans frequently opine on other cultures in such a manner as to demand that others view the world as Americans do. That is, what does not make sense to Americans because of their standards and priorities is not necessarily nonsensical to someone of other standards and priorities.

    (2) Yes, other people do this, too.

    (3) What makes the American consideration special is the nation's place in the world order. With great influence comes at least some responsibility. Americans are really big on influence, but responsibility is something more of a political buzzword kicked around for lack of anything better.

    (4) The range of what constitutes "any sort of blind, nationalistic fervor or mindless brow-beating" is broad and nearly amorphous.​

    What strikes me about your rant is twofold: First, it is very general; see #4 above. Secondly, though, it really does seem to be about one-upping our European neighbors. The middle paragraphs are problematic to the point of being laughable, except I'm not sure comedy was your aim.

    • • •​

    This is a discussion that comes up in geopolitics and American elections. It's hard to claim foreign policy experience when you've never left the country. While it seems perhaps a small issue to fight over, George W. Bush wasn't particularly well-traveled; whether or not that has anything to do with his foreign policy disasters is a moot point, though. There was enough wrong with his approach to other nations that we don't need to crawl that far down the ladder.

    Sarah Palin was a pretty obvious mockery of foreign policy experience. Oh, good; some days she can see Russia. Yeah, and I've been into Canada on a boat how many times? Do I get to claim myself a foreign trade specialist?

    It's partially a reaction to anti-intellectualism among the right wing. At some point, exasperated people roll their eyes and say, "Okay, so he's some international jet-setting effete liberal. What did you learn about people abroad while staying home?"

    It's a lot easier to reduce the French to cheese-eating surrender monkeys, or Muslims to a bunch of rabid terrorists, if you've never met them. But knowing these people is part of the problem, too. Everyone I know, for instance, knows the bit about French or Russian people and a lack of personal hygiene. And for every joke I hear about how French and Russian people stink, I never hear anyone mention the number of French and Russian people who don't stink. It's not necessarily that these folks hate the Russians and French, but that they don't notice the ones who don't stink. You get out, you immerse yourself in a culture, and you don't have to accept it as the right way, but it stops being so weird and foreign, which makes it inherently less scary.

    • Roger Waters, "'Leaving Beirut' Speech"

    • Roger Waters, "Leaving Beirut (Sienkiewicz Frames)"
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2009
  10. John99 Banned Banned

    have you taken a survey? did you go door to door with a pad?

    does more need to be said?
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2009
  11. John99 Banned Banned

    it is so funny how people make judgment calls based on knowing one or two people, or even a handful of people. i just never understood that. what part of the brain is responsible for this phenomenon?
  12. countezero Registered Senior Member

    I lived in two European cultures, immersed myself in both of them.

    In general, their views about America and American policies are boneheaded and ignorant. And, in the case of continental Europeans, their smug sense of superiority (which in reality is born of inferiority) is both real and obvious. I don't know how many times I heard the crack about not knowing geography, for example . . .
  13. superstring01 Moderator

    Next time I go to Asia, I'll be sure to visit France and spit on all the Brazilians who live there.

  14. EntropyAlwaysWins TANSTAAFL. Registered Senior Member


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    I hear their neighbours in Zimbabwe are similarly unfriendly.
  15. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Did I say I did? No. Did I make it clear it was based on my experience? Yes. Did the writer of the OP go door to door? I doubt it, but for some reason you did not care about his approach. Why? Because you like his opinion and not mine. Hypocrite.

    Americans score much lower on geography tests than Europeans. Sorry John.
  16. synthesizer-patel Sweep the leg Johnny! Valued Senior Member

    ok I'll bite - name 7 things that you think make the US culturally superior to Europe
  17. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

    So I guess it's ok for your to bash on Texas, but not ok for Europeans to bash on the U.S.?
  18. Cowboy My Aim Is True Valued Senior Member

    Go to Japan. There are Brazilians there, believe it or not.
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    National parks and wilderness areas, together with the intellectual and cultural foundation of them.

    "A man's home is his castle", principle and cultural attitude established in law and custom.

    Jazz, blues, rock and roll.

    Competitive team sports.

    Common language established over huge geographical regions and diverse cultures.

    Legal and cultural egalitarian treatment of individuals across income classes, principle and enforcement - common terms of address, provision of "public defenders", etc.

    Land grant universities, public schools, and similar establishments - education as appropriate for any given individual.

    Granted these things are eroding and threatened, that the US is resting on some achievements it needs to be working to maintain, but nevertheless - - - -
  20. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    It's Texas, for heaven's sake

    Well, Texas is part of the U.S. Should we start viewing it otherwise?

    The thing is that people tend to "pick on their own" more than they accept others picking on the same. This, of course, is not a reliable boundary since it can be drawn anywhere:

    I'll give y'all this much: I apologize for putting the noose in the cartoon. That was one step too far and went beyond the more gentle stereotypes. The rest, though, was just a joke and joking is my job. If I apologized every time I offended someone with a cartoon, I'd be begging forgiveness 24 hours a day. It wouldn't bother me one bit if some Carolinian cartoonist portrayed folks in Seattle as latté-swilling, recycling-obsessed, Prius-driving liberals. Of course, such a caricature would have the added virtue of being accurate.


    So maybe compared to all of us liberal, left-coast effetes, Texas is something else entirely, but if we agreed with you on that point, we'd be horrible people.

    Still, though, I rather doubt your example. To the one, no wonder you didn't want to link to the quote. To the other, though, every once in a while someone goes and does something stupid and offensive like looking it up.

    You're upset because someone bashed Texas in the seventy-sixth post of a thread called "Which is the most redneck state"?

    Texas is part of the United States of America, and Texans need to either accept this fact or do something about it. In the meantime, though, as long as we three hundred millions will live in familial disdain, I don't see how being from Texas is any particular reason to excuse you from the dinner table.

    Now, if we want to put an end to all that stupid regionalism, Texans can do their part by not being the crazy uncle that everyone just humors while wondering when the state commitment papers will be processed. Seriously. Everyone has their part to do. Up here in Seattle, we need to stop being so depressingly cynical. Down in California, they have to learn to shit in the toilet and not all over everyone else. Floridans need to wake up; there's a reason the place is called "America's wang". Louisiana: get off their daughters. Texas: accept the fact that you're Americans and stop embarrassing everyone else. New York: being nice won't kill you. New Jersey ... um ... well ... yeah. It's New Jersey. Iowa, Montana, Idaho ... you name it.

    Seriously, though. Nationalism and regionalism are silly, to the one. To the other, people are really oversensitive about this shit. Hell, I remember when asking where the WMDs were was sympathizing with terrorists. I mean, come on. Right or wrong, doesn't matter. U.S.A.!

    Two words: Freedom fries.

    I would have much more faith in people's objections to international criticism if there wasn't so damn much to criticize. Regionally speaking: Come on, dude. It's Texas. Get a legislature with a clue. Dump the textbook adoption committees that demand alternative history. Accept the fact that y'all are Americans. And the next time one of your idiot governors decides to run for president, please stop him. Yeah, I know people are mean to Texas. Just like they were mean to Florida when a bunch of people couldn't figure out how to vote.


    Horsey, David. "In the South Carolina dog house". Drawing Power. November 6, 2009. November 18, 2009.
  21. countezero Registered Senior Member

    I'm not making the claim America is better.

    I'm pointing out that Europeans continually walk around making the claim that their culture is more superior, their politics are more enlightened, their populations are more educated, etc. They do this all the time...
  22. StrawDog disseminated primatemaia Valued Senior Member

    I would add Movies and the Movie experience. The Americans are (IMHO) the uncontested masters of the Art of Cinema. (and yes, notwithstanding the arty movie scene in Europe and Asia

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    And to learn the art of storytelling via movies, one has to travel to the US and become immersed in the incredible amount of talent available. :m:
  23. synthesizer-patel Sweep the leg Johnny! Valued Senior Member

    sure sounds like it!

    Personally I dont see America as worse neccesarily - just very backward and very conflicted - but considering it's at least 200 years younger as a nation than pretty much every other developed country in the world, there's no reason why it shouldnt be 200 years behind the rest of the world cuturally, and politically.

    You'll catch up

    In the meantime keep making great rock music

    but less of the international terrorism please
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